Margin Call, Total Recall, The King of Comedy: films on TV today

Kevin Spacey's bank is on the brink, Colin Farrell's memories are all in a mess, and Robert De Niro aims for the funny bone: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY 
Margin Call ★★★★
11.15pm-12.55am BBC1 

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The 2008 US financial meltdown was fairly swiftly dramatised on TV, with BBC2’s The Last Days of Lehman Brothers and HBO’s Too Big to Fail. Margin Call, which earned its talented debuting writer/director JC Chandor an Oscar nomination for best screenplay, fictionalises the same crash, focusing on the rapid reaction of a Lehman-like investment bank to the crisis over a 36-hour period. Chandor drives the action by way of a MacGuffin: a USB stick handed to Zachary Quinto’s whizzkid junior by Stanley Tucci’s bitter risk manager, who is being escorted from the building during a cull. News travels up through the ranks until it reaches elusive CEO Jeremy Irons, giving a delicious, pinstriped version of his Pontiff from The Borgias. It’s mostly shot at night in a New York skyscraper, with the claustrophobic, VDU-illuminated isolationism of the financial services industry cleverly implied, while the central disaster is humanised by individual ones – notably Kevin Spacey’s conflicted middle manager, whose dog is dying of cancer. 


I Never Sang for My Father ★★★★
2.30-4.30pm Movie Mix 

Before Gene Hackman won an Oscar for The French Connection, he picked up a nomination for this measured drama about a college professor dominated by his elderly father.


Total Recall ★★★
9.00-11.20pm 5★ 

It’s deja vu all over again. Colin Farrell fills the shoes of Arnold Schwarznegger in this remake of the 1990 sci-fi classic in which a man is forced to go on the run from brainwashing baddies.     


21 Jump Street ★★★
9.00-11.15pm ITV2 

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play fresh-faced cops who stick out like a pair of sore thumbs when they are tasked with going under cover at a high school in this comedy.  


The King of Comedy ★★★★★
1.25-3.40am Film4 

Martin Scorsese’s fascinating, unsettling comedy drama stars Robert DeNiro as Rupert Pupkin, a would-be stand-up comedian who will do anything to be on TV. And we mean anything.    


  

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